Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Review: MattyCollector Stay Puft

In 198...somethingorother Kenner released a toy of the largest ghost ever in the world ever. The original ghost was so big it could stand on churches (well, through churches, such are the restrictions when you stick a man in a large white suit). The Kenner toy was equally...well, okay, fine. It wasn't exactly the largest ghost toy ever in the world ever.

It was about the same size as the regular Ghostbuster figures.

Ever since that day when I had to hold the Marshmallow Man in the air in order to attempt to simulate his massive size while fighting the Ghostbusters, I dreamed of owning a proper Stay Puft. One that could be tall without me having to hold him up. One that could be tall and have its feet on the ground.

A few years ago NECA released a line of Ghostbusters toys. It was good. In fact I'd go so far as to say it was very good. There was a problem, however, in the fact that NECA couldn't get hold of the rights for the likenesses of the actors. This meant that after a single wave of ghost figures, the line died.

They did, however, manage to put a pretty darn big Marshmallow Man in that first wave. And for a while I was a happy person.

Then Mattel got the licence for Ghostbusters. They looked at the NECA figure and though, 'hmm, maybe this one isn't quite big enough...'

So they made a HUGE one.

It was made for SDCC and I bought one from MattyCollector after the show. Somehow or other it managed to get through customs without any additional fees, and for a time I was very happy with Mr Stay Puft.

A time which came to an end pretty quickly as the Problems emerged.

But before we get to them, a could of nice things... Stay Puft is big - really BIG - and looks great stood next to the 6" Ghostbusters Mattel have released. No, it's not to scale, but having it to scale would be a bit too big - it's hard enough finding somewhere to store him at the size he is. Articulation is limited - only at the arms, legs & head, but you couldn't really add it in anywhere else. He comes with a 'happy' face, unlike the NECA figure which came with an 'angry' one. Call me picky, but for the price it would have been nice if the Mattel version had come with an interchangeable head so you could choose your look.

But this review isn't really about me saying nice things, it's more of a rant. A rant about the toy that cost $70 and came with a whole bunch of problems...

Mattel thought it'd be a good idea to make Stay Puft out of a soft, squishy, foamy material to simulate his marshmallow-ness. Immediately alarm bells ring with anyone who's ever had much experience with toys. Put simply, any toy that isn't made out of 'normal' rigid plastic encounters problems - especially as time passes.

I wasn't too concerned, however. I mean I've played about with stress balls, abusing them in ways only small children can think of, and they look exactly the same now as they did decades ago. Surely they'd made Stay Puft out of a material similar to that?


It is very, very easy to permanently leave marks in Stay Puft's foam. Mine has more or less been sat in the corner ever since I bought him, yet he's still covered in little potholes and scrapes. He even had a few coming straight out of the box. Surely the whole point of using a soft material for him was so that you could touch him and squish him? You simply cannot do this without causing damage. So...why? Why use such a potentially fragile material? How did it not occur to the Powers At Be at Mattel that this might happen when many fans were wary of this to begin with?

Further to this, Stay Puft has started to go yellow. Over time his bright white exterior has begun to develop a yellow tinge. Usually this is a sign of something being left in the sun, but mine has never been in direct sunlight. Heck, our living room is so badly designed it's dark 99% of the time. There have even been reports of people's whose Stay Puft's have never been removed from the box turning yellow.

Eventually, after much being shouted at by fans, Mattel revealed that the yellowing is being caused by a reaction between the foam and the white paint. This basically means that there's absolutely nothing that can be done about the problem and everyone's is going to turn yellow. Yours hasn't started yet? Well, it will. It's just a matter of time.

As a third problem, it's being reported that the foam is beginning to shrink, leading to cracks on the surface. While I want to make people aware of this, and I suspect this is starting to happen to mine, I can't say with 100% certainty at the moment. It looks like this is happening, certainly, but I can't be sure.

Of course, despite knowing and admitting the problems, Mattel isn't going to replace everyone's Stay Puft. It was wishful thinking on the part of buyers that they ever would. Make no mistake, this is a manufacturing error but Mattel are writing it off as bad luck.

No wonder the Ghostbusters line is in trouble.

So, was Stay Puft worth the expense? Do I regret buying him? A little, for certain. His delicate nature was quite annoying, but I could live with it. But having him turn yellow and being able to do nothing to prevent it on top of this leaves me slightly angry. I'm left with a product which, from a distance, still looks like everything I'd hoped for when I clicked 'add to basket'. I just wish I was actually able to play with him, as all toys should be.

I really hope no one sold their NECA figure before buying the Mattel version. It should be noted that my NECA figure looks exactly the same as it did when I bought him (besides a slight layer of dust). Mattel has learnt a number of hard lessons recently about straying from regular plastic - not just from Stay Puft, but Swamp Thing and Snout Spout too. It makes me wonder, however, how everyone else already knew these materials were a little dodgy and Mattel didn't.

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